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Trouw: 'Foreign fighters usually left their families behind in confusion'

Most families were utterly overwhelmed when they found out that their son or daughter had suddenly left for Syria, that is what Daan Weggemans, Marieke van der Zwan and Marieke Liem observe in their research on family members of Dutch jihadists. 

The research emphasizes  the importance of supporting families. Most family members are not offenders but victims. That is not always how they are treated. Several families talk about negative experiences with authorities. 
There are several ways to assist families, for instance with the family support centre and support groups. That is important for safety, says Weggemans. “Many foreign fighters attempted to convince their families to travel to the caliphate too. Sometimes with success. You have to make families resilient, especially when there are brothers and sisters.”


In total, since 2012 about threehundred Dutch people left to Syria and Iraq to join a jihadist group. Nowadays the authorities are mainly taking returnees into account.  

Then it is also important to understand the role of families, says Van der Zwan. ‘There is a chance that families who hardly had any influence on the decision to leave, will not be able to support their returning family member in re-integrating and de-radicalising either.’ 


It is the first time that the role of families of foreign fighters has been investigated in such detail. The scientific research and documentation centre of the Ministry of Justice and Security ordered the research. 
The research on the role and importance of families and foreign fighters will be presented on 30 July 2018. 

This is a fragment of an article in the newspaper Trouw. The NOS also paid attention to the research of Weggemans, Van der Zwan and Liem. Besides, you can read the entire report on the page of the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre.  

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